Selected Correspondence Peter
RESPONDENT: Was it was brand new to human experience? No –
PETER: Am I to take it that you are now rescinding what you previously said in this post –
RESPONDENT: You’re drawing a parallel that I never intended. Although that said perhaps I object to the word new when a person thinks their experiential realisations are new to human experience. That’s just short-sightedness to me. Not being able to see that one’s own experience is not representative of anything other than just that
PETER: Hmm … and yet you plan to read Bernadette Roberts’ ‘experiential realizations’ in order to make a determination as to whether or not her experience is one of being free from the human condition. Would not this be, by your own standards, a case of the short-sighted judging the short-sighted?
RESPONDENT: But here we are coming to my philosophical difference from the philosophy that Richard and Vineeto and yourself seem to espouse. I hold that it is not possible to know anything outside of one’s own experiences.
PETER: Apparently you hold a philosophical viewpoint that everyone is short-sighted given that you previously said –
RESPONDENT: I am an agnostic, but not in the sense that it is painted on the actualism website – it is no religious agnosticity (if that’s the word) for me, but just a simple acceptance that I know what I have experienced myself – and nothing more.
PETER: Why you would adopt a philosophy that cuts you off from learning anything from the experience of your fellow human beings mystifies me. With an isolationist philosophy like that you might as well haul up the drawbridge and call it a day.
RESPONDENT: Ironically it is the pursuit of actualism which has led me to this position.
PETER: I can I understand that. Many people have come to this mailing list with a genuine interest of what is being offered on the Actual Freedom website but eventually retreat to the safety of adopting an agnostic stance. If that is the case in your case could it be that the fear of putting actualism into practice has lead you to this position rather than the pursuit of actualism? I say this because the pursuit of actualism means abandoning the safety of adopting an agnostic stance with regard to the ‘big’ questions in life in favour of wanting to find out in one’s own experience (experientially) the answers to these pressing ‘big’ questions.
RESPONDENT: Yet it clearly differs from the position that you have taken – that it is possible to know something categorical about all other humans.
PETER: I always find it odd that agnostics dismiss the idea that something can be known categorically and yet remain blind to the fact that by saying so they are making a categorical claim. The more people strut their particular philosophy, the gladder I am that I never adopted a philosophical stance about the down-to-earth business of being a human being on this planet.
RESPONDENT: I suppose it may feel as though one knows. But I will never agree unless you agree that it is based on some extra-sensory faculty.
PETER: I am not going to agree at all because there is no such thing as extra-sensory perception operating in a pure consciousness experience.
RESPONDENT: There is no scope within the five commonly held sensory faculties, nor the ability to think reflectively, for ‘knowing’.
PETER: Which is why the only reliable guide that an actualist can and needs to follow is a pure consciousness experience. A pure consciousness experience is a common-to-all-human-beings experience of being *what* I am whereas an altered state of consciousness is, if not personally tainted, always culturally tainted – which is why Bernadette Roberts’ altered state of consciousness and her subsequent ‘knowing’ aligns with the Christian tradition.
RESPONDENT: It seems to me to be a non-religious gnosticism, to hold that it is possible to know something outside one’s witnessing of the senses (which can even be flawed) one’s mental experiences which seem to hold no actual meaning at all.
PETER: A non-religious Gnosticism, hey? I’ll pass on that one but I would point out that in a PCE – due to the absence of ‘I’ the witness – there is no ‘witnessing’ of the senses happening, rather the multitudinous sensory receptors of this flesh and blood body operate directly, free of any obscurating psychological and instinctual identity whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: [No] – I believe this to be interpretative thought piggybacking the experiential realisation.
PETER: I wonder what you base this belief on? Have you had any experiences of what is old to human experience, in other words have you had an ASC? It would seem to me that the first requisite needed to make a comparative assessment of one type of experience versus another is at least a thorough understanding of the differences between both, the next best being to having personally had one type of experience and the best of all to have had both types of experience.
RESPONDENT: Yes I have had an ASC which was pretty intense. I sometimes wonder if I should explore that path – on that basis that for all we know it may be necessary to achieve a unitive mental state before proceeding on to the state of actual freedom.
PETER: Your claim that it may be ‘necessary to achieve a unitive mental state before proceeding on to the state of actual freedom’ flies in the face of Richard’s hindsight experiential understanding on this subject –
Richard, The Actual Freedom Trust Mailing List, Alan, 25.7.2000
And more recently –
And the post from only a few days ago says it very explicitly –
I guess a non-religious agnostic is free to believe anything – even that one needs first to be in a religious delusionary altered state of consciousness in order to become free from the human condition in toto.
All joking aside, if you are uncertain about actualism and you want to explore the spiritual path then all I can say is do it and do it thoroughly. I had a great time in my spiritual years – the whole experience was invaluable to me because I got to know the spiritual world as a lived experience, not as a philosophical theory. It may well in itself give you what you are looking for or it may serve as a stepping-stone in that you will eventually see the spiritual world for what it is.
Either way it matters not – at least you will have abandoned the safety of philosophy and replaced it with lived experience. Life is after all an adventure to be lived and to remain a puppet on other people’s strings or to remain ensnared by believing other people’s beliefs is to not fully living the adventure.
RESPONDENT: 2) There are multiple definitions and uses of the word ‘agnostic.’ Vineeto and Peter normally use it to mean ‘a person who claims something (essential to actualism) is impossible to know.’ It has another meaning as well – simply ‘not knowing.’ The second meaning doesn’t necessarily couple with the former. Try www.onelook.com and type the word into the various dictionaries available – some of them have one meaning listed – others have more than one.
Even Vineeto’s presented definition contains two meanings that can either go together or be pulled apart – as in the verbiage ‘Also....’
These 2 definitions can go hand in hand and together – or – they can be pulled apart as they often are.
PETER: I fail to see the point you are making as your comment makes no reference at all to the definition of agnosticism that No 60 provided, be it hyperbole or not.
As for your statement that I normally use the word agnostic to mean ‘a person who claims something (essential to actualism) is impossible to know’ – this is not so. I have, however, had occasion to talk to people who claim to be agnostics and define agnosticism to mean that it is impossible to know, let alone experience, that the universe is infinite and eternal, as in utterly peerless in its perfection. Note that they use the word ‘impossible’, not that they are ‘uncertain’ or ‘non-committal’ about the subject – they claim it is impossible.
Personally I find it fascinating that the word agnosticism was originally coined by a scientist in order to describe his stance with regard to religion –
And yet, only some 130 years later, the very the same word that was originally coined specifically to describe a person’s stance with regard to religion is now used by some people to describe their stance with regard to something that is utterly unreligious – actualism.
Given this very odd reversal of usage, it is little wonder that there is such confusion about the meaning of words agnostic and agnosticism. It seems that one can use the word to mean anything one wants to nowadays – including it to mean non-omniscient.
RESPONDENT: Hello Peter and Vineeto... Thanks for your recent responses to this most interesting thread. I’ve attempted to distil the essence, hopefully not obfuscating the contexts.
PETER: I notice that while you have addressed this post to both myself and Vineeto and have headed your post ‘The Magic of It All’, the content relates to the content of a thread entitled ‘The universe’. So I have responded and maintained the previous title.
RESPONDENT: It seems I’ve been labelled an agnostic. In Peter’s definition...
I dug up this definition from Webster’s:
Note that I’m ignoring all common theistic inferences in this term and focusing on the root... a-gnostic.
PETER: Just to keep things clear, the root of the word agnostic is – gnoses (Gk gnosis) investigation, knowledge Oxford Dictionary and it appears that the prefix ‘a-’ then makes the word mean the opposite – agnosia (Gk agnosia) ignorance Oxford Dictionary.
It appears you do not object to the label agnostic, just to the definition that I had provided –
The reason I chose that particular definition was, given your interest in the writings of actualism, I assumed you were being an agnostic with regard to actualism – that someday you may want to abandon your agnostic stance in favour of becoming certain and being committed.
I note however, from what you say in this post, that your agnosticism runs deeper than that – it is the doctrine of ignorance and the principle of neither-nor, rather than merely being uncertain and non-committal. That’s a far bigger hole to dig yourself out of. Not that it makes it any more difficult, of course. I had to write off 17 years of spiritual indoctrination in order to become a practicing actualist and in retrospect it was easy – beliefs are after all only beliefs.
I might just take the opportunity of posting a little story from my journal because it describes an event in my life that helped me to understand the nature of beliefs –
RESPONDENT: First, I don’t think this jibes with your usage of the term as being open to belief, rather it rejects all beliefs.
PETER: If you re-read your preferred definition you will find that it defines an agnostic as someone who maintains ‘that doctrine which, professing ignorance, neither asserts nor denies’. Webster Dictionary
Now whilst I may be somewhat of a layman in the finer points of English grammar, when I look up synonyms for the word ‘deny’, I find the words refute, negate and reject. As such, the doctrine could be reasonably paraphrased as ‘professing ignorance, neither asserting, nor rejecting’.
Given that we are talking about beliefs, it follows that an agnostic is someone who, while ‘professing ignorance, neither asserts nor rejects beliefs’ – in other words, an agnostic does not assert belief and does not reject belief.
In case you think that my use of the synonym reject for the word deny is a slight of hand, the definition could also be accurately restated as ‘that doctrine which, professing ignorance’, does not assert belief and does not deny belief.
Whilst you may think that agnosticism rejects all beliefs, the opposite is clearly the case.
RESPONDENT: Second, this definition is exactly what I’ve been talking about, so I guess you can call me a dictionary agnostic.
PETER: It appears to me that you are somewhat more than a dictionary agnostic (whatever that is) because you seem to hold to the doctrine of not denying or not rejecting belief as a practice, not only as a philosophy.
I notice that you said ‘I’m ignoring all common theistic inferences in this term’ but the philosophy of agnosticism, ‘the doctrine which, professing ignorance, neither asserts nor denies’ is not only rooted in theism, its continued existence as a philosophy sustains theistic belief, and its current popularity in some circles is, bizarrely enough, sustained by Eastern spiritual belief.
From my brief reading on the subject, the term agnostic was publicly coined by T.H Huxley, a biologist, philosopher and champion of Darwin’s evolutionary theories, at a meeting of the Metaphysical Society in London in 1869.
Hence agnosticism, as a philosophy of professing ignorance, was rooted in opposition to those who claimed they had a special knowledge of spiritual mysteries, hence what some refer to as secular agnosticism owes its existence to theism – or to put it plainly, if you hold no theistic beliefs whatsoever there is no need to be agnostic to those beliefs.
The reason I say that the philosophy of agnosticism sustains theistic belief can be summarized by the following quote –
In other words, by maintaining he or she ‘does not know’ an agnostic leaves the door open to theistic belief.
Of course an actualist, whilst being an atheist, is not constrained to asserting that there is no God, he or she has, by the experiential evidence of a PCE, the direct knowledge that there is no God, by whatever name or gender – that any and all religious and spiritual belief is but impassioned fantasy.
That the current philosophy of agnosticism is sustained by Eastern spiritual belief can be seen from the following reference –
If one believes the hand-me-down legends, Mr. Buddha remained agnostic about many issues that were of vital interest to his followers and this legend has served to imbed the principle of agnosticism within Buddhist philosophy – and therefore within much of Western philosophy of the last few centuries. In Buddhism agnosticism is exalted as a sign of great wisdom so much so that whenever a Buddhist professes ‘ignorance’ he or she is actually maintaining their feeling of superiority over others.
RESPONDENT: I suppose the difference here is that I maintain that matters such as the infinitude of the universe are fundamentally unknowable.
PETER: Rather than professing ignorance, neither asserting nor denying, what you are doing here is maintaining a belief – the belief ‘that matters such as the infinitude of the universe are fundamentally unknowable’.
In order to try and make this clearer I will juxtapose two of your statements –
Can you see that your second statement is a clear enunciation of what you believe to be true about the nature of the universe?
RESPONDENT: This is not an issue for you as
This is the nub: you are talking from the POV of someone privy to an understanding that is alien to me.
PETER: As a practicing actualist, I do not have a point of view about the infinitude of the universe – I know by direct and sensual experience, from many temporary ‘self’-less experiences known as a PCEs, the infinitude of the universe. Even a virtual freedom from the human condition allows one to speak with the authority of experience about such matters. As for such an understanding being alien to you, you might contemplate on the fact that it is ‘you’ and ‘your’ belief that are preventing you from allowing the possibility of an intellectual understanding precipitating a pure consciousness experience of the infinitude of the universe.
Beliefs are the bane of human existence – not only do they cripple the free operation of intelligence, they also serve as a constant stimulant for one’s own instinctual malice and sorrow.
RESPONDENT: I have no idea how a ‘sensual experience’ of the universe can be rationalized with cosmological physics of any doctrine. No clue whatsoever, perhaps some day. In fact, from over here this sounds suspiciously akin to a religious experience, but I’ll take you at your word that is not the case.
PETER: When I first came across actualism it all sounded like spiritualism to me and I assumed that Richard was yet another of the many Gurus in town.
But the more I listened, the more I read, and the more I thought about what was written, the more I realized how radically different it was to spiritualism. The challenge actualism offered to me was to abandon the safe haven of my spiritual years – the belief that life, the universe and what it is to be a human being is, and always will be, an unfathomable mystery, ‘fundamentally unknowable’ – and to set about finding out about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being, no matter what the consequences of that search may be.
PETER: As for providing data to satisfy common sense, common sense tells me that the notion that the physical universe – all of matter, space and time – was created at some moment in time, in some place in space, out of nothing, makes no sense.
RESPONDENT: I spent some time considering ‘common sense’. I think this term is incompatible with the discussion at hand.
PETER: I would remind you that at one stage in this conversation you were upfront as to common sense –
In the course of this conversation, you seem to have abandoned what your common sense told you at some stage in favour of maintaining your belief that such matters are ‘fundamentally unknowable’. The reason I say this is because if you can see and acknowledge that this is so, you will also have an understanding as to why common sense is rarely to be found and why it so rarely is ever put into practice.
Belief prevents common sense from operating.
RESPONDENT: It certainly applies in such areas as ‘what’s a fair price for oranges today?’, but I think you have to be careful in this context. After all, it wasn’t long ago that common sense held that the earth is flat. The AF glossary chooses this definition of common sense:
PETER: I wrote The Actual Freedom Trust Glossary specifically to flesh out the words and phrases – the terminology – that Richard used in his writing simply because in the early days of my interest I found many of them difficult to understand clearly, due not only to my spiritual conditioning but also due to my ignorance of such matters. Not a professed ignorance by the way, but a genuine ignorance.
So in the interest of the clarity, I will post the full definition from The Actual Freedom Trust Glossary –
RESPONDENT: The nature of the universe is hardly an everyday matter …
PETER: Well, it may not be to you but the nature of the universe is an everyday matter to me. I am left wondering where it is you live?
Do you regard the universe as being ‘out there’, somewhere in the sky? Do you think the universe somehow stops at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and that this planet is separate from the universe? Does the universe stop at the edge of ‘your’ world or do you see that it might well include the city or town you live in, the trees and cars and dogs and people in the streets, the house or apartment you live, the room you are sitting in, the very chair you are sitting on reading these words.
You, as a flesh and blood body, can touch the stuff of the universe, smell the stuff of the universe, hear the stuff of the universe, taste the stuff of the universe – the ‘everyday matter’ of the universe. In fact you, as a flesh and blood body, are made of the very stuff of the universe – a finite arrangement of living cells that was produced by the process of a single cell being impregnated by another cell, neither of which were part of what has become you, but each of which were the stuff of the universe.
The only reason human flesh and blood bodies continue to exist is by breathing in the very stuff of the universe – ingesting the very stuff of the universe – the everyday matter of mineral matter, animal matter and vegetable matter. By contemplating on the actual nature of the universe you may well find that it is everyday matter.
And, if you take this contemplation a step further, you will find that what you regard as ‘your life’ is but an everyday event of everyday matter – getting out of bed in the morning, doing whatever it is that you do including the essential breathing in and ingesting bits of matter and then going back to bed to go back to sleep. The utter simplicity of the events of everyday life as the everyday matter of the universe does beg the question as to why one should waste so much of one’s life being unhappy and feeling malevolent when there is now an alternative available.
RESPONDENT: … and common sense is only one of the tools at hand in gaining understanding of such a meaty topic.
PETER: Indeed. If one has a materialistic understanding of the nature of the universe – neatly summarized as the belief that ‘life’s a bitch and then you die’ then one either succumbs to depression or one goes out and does battle with one’s fellow human beings in a grim instinctually-driven battle for survival. Or, if this isn’t one’s cup of tea, one can latch on to any one of the thousands of spiritual understandings about the nature of the universe and spend one’s life wandering around with one’s head in the clouds – being anywhere but here experiencing this place in infinite space and being sometime else other than experiencing this moment of eternal time.
Actualism offers a third alternative to these traditional purely-anthropocentric ways of understanding the nature of the universe – for those who are dissatisfied with living within the constraints of these understandings. I’ll post a section of the Glossary which may throw some light on the understanding of the nature of the universe that is inherent to actualism and why it is so radically different to the common understandings we have been taught to believe as being the only alternatives –
RESPONDENT: The residual question I have is why this is all so important. I don’t doubt the importance of the experience of the universe as magical and perfect, I just don’t understand what it has to do with its physical nature, and why you so tenaciously adhere to one particular theory (aka belief).
PETER: If you look back over our conversation, you will find that I have explained why understanding the nature of the universe is vital to understanding what actualism is about on many occasions. I would add that, unless one understands that the universe is eternal and infinite, then any pure consciousness experience of the universe being eternal and infinite that occurs can result in one being overwhelmed by the experience to the extent that the delusion that ‘I am eternal and infinite’ takes over.
RESPONDENT: My rubber duckies example was not meant to be glib, but rather to emphasize the point I was making, that the fundamental physical nature of the universe, while a fascinating subject for the curious mind, seems not pertinent to the real task at hand. But then, I’m an agnostic.
PETER: Maintaining an agnostic stance, be it a secular or religious agnosticism, thwarts any understanding of the fundamental physical nature of the universe and prevents the direct sensual experience of the actuality of the infinitude of the universe.
For me, common sense meant I had to tackle first things first in order to move in the direction that I wanted to move – taking on the task of becoming happy and harmless in order to become actually free of the human condition of malice and sorrow. And first things were my beliefs about the fundamental nature of the universe.
Speaking of first things first, whilst you keep insisting that ‘the fundamental physical nature of the universe’ is not pertinent to ‘the task at hand’, you might ponder on the fact that the ‘Introduction to Actual Freedom’ not only begins with the actual physical nature of the universe, it also ends with it. The words in between the beginning and end merely point to the lack of sagacity of human beings continuing to nurse malice and sorrow in their bosoms whilst offering a roadmap as to how it is possible, for any individual sufficiently motivated, to become actually free from these passions.
RESPONDENT: No 45 quoted David Bohm recently:
You may argue David Bohm’s ‘spiritual’ bent, but I maintain his statement is valid. We can’t see UV for instance, so how do we know that there is not important information being presented to us at those wavelengths?
PETER: I find it telling that those who propose such statements as ‘95% of the phenomena are invisible and not perceived from our senses’ most often resort to the example of electromagnetic radiation, as though this specific case provides proof of the existence of invisible and unperceivable phenomena.
Whilst it is a fact that we cannot see electromagnetic radiation in the ultraviolet spectrum with our eyes – the spectrum of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation thus far detected ranges from 103 HZ to 1022 HZ and the unaided human eye is only capable of detecting the visible light portion within the 1014 HZ to 1015 HZ range – we are nevertheless able to sensately perceive UV as warmth on our skin and we are able to detect it and measure it with instruments that are mechanical extensions of our senses. In short, we know by sensory observation that UV exists as a fact, that it is a thing in itself, that it is physical in nature.
Similarly, anyone who has stood near an infrared lamp can sense infrared electromagnetic radiation, anyone who has eaten food cooked in a microwave oven can see and taste the effects of microwave electromagnetic radiation. Anyone who has listened to radio or watched television can sensately experience the results of encoded information being sent via the longer wave frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. Anyone who has had an X-ray in a hospital can not only see and touch the machine that produces the electromagnetic radiation but they can also see and touch the resultant picture produced by the X ray electromagnetic waves.
Perhaps you could offer another example other than the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation in support your stance that David Bohm’s statement is valid. In doing so, you may well find that Mr. Bohm is using the word phenomena in the philosophical sense –
– in which case he is talking of objects of perception that have neither substance nor physical existence – in other words, he is talking of phenomena that are meta-physical, as in –
While you say ‘you may argue David Bohm’s ‘spiritual’ bent’, there is no need for me to do so because his spiritual bent is a matter of fact – well-publicized, well-known and readily verifiable. ( see also)
RESPONDENT: So, making absolute statements about the nature of the universe is presumptuous and smacks of a belief system.
PETER: And yet, earlier in this same post, you have maintained that Mr. Bohm’s absolute statement about the nature of the universe – ‘that 95% of the phenomena are invisible and not perceived from our senses’ – is valid. I take it from this that you do not regard his statement as being presumptuous nor do you regard it as smacking of a belief system.
Whilst you have said in the past –
you are, yet again, coming out of the ‘not-knowing’ closet and championing yet another meta-physical theory about the nature of the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: But that’s just my opinion...
PETER: Having an opinion about something that you do not know to be a fact is but another way of saying I believe this to be so solely on the basis of what I hear other people have to say about the matter.
If I can refer you back to your claim that you hold no beliefs about the nature of the physical universe, I’ll take the opportunity of reposting my response –
I don’t know whether it has occurred to you in the course of our conversations but those who value ‘not-knowing’ do in fact hold to many opinions based solely on what they have heard other people say and they do in fact stubbornly cherish many beliefs – principal amongst them the belief that some type of ‘Unknowable’ forces and energies permeate the physical universe.
PETER: You wrote to No 21 and No 45 making a comment on our recent conversations about the nature of the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: No 21/No 45: Peter and I had an ongoing dialog on this very subject not too long ago. You will save yourselves a lot of time by searching the site for terms like universe | infinite | theory etc. You will find an unequivocal stand on the nature of the universe which rejects all questioning.
PETER: I took the opportunity of reviewing our dialogue on the subject of the universe and I found no instances that I have an unequivocal stand on the nature of the universe nor that I rejected all questioning.
RESPONDENT: I’m rearranging your response a bit ...
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but this sounds like it’s impossible to be happy unless one believes that the universe is infinite and eternal. That is an unequivocal statement.
PETER: My statement about the method of how to become free from the human condition is ‘an unequivocal statement’ because it is a fact.
RESPONDENT: Well, that’s the end of that discussion.
PETER: It is only the end of the discussion if that is the end of your questions about actualism.
Actualism is completely upfront in that is both non-spiritual and down-to-earth – this is what it says at the top of the very first page of the Actual Freedom website and this is reconfirmed countless times throughout the website and in all of the correspondence.
My ‘unequivocal statement’ that you seem to regard as a conversation-ender says no more and no less than –
When I first came across actualism I quite naturally regarded it as yet another spiritual teaching and Richard as yet another Guru despite the fact that he was upfront in saying otherwise – I say quite naturally because prior to actualism there was no alternative to the ‘self’-imposed grim reality or the ‘self’-imposed fantasy of a Greater Reality.
As time passed and my interest grew, it gradually dawned on me that Richard was sincere in what he was saying about actualism being non-spiritual and then I realized that I needed to abandon my spiritual beliefs and meta-physical concepts if I was to ever understand what an actual freedom from the human condition is and how the actualism method works.
By taking this step I was able to ask questions in order to make clear what he was saying, rather than object to what he was saying because it did not fit with my spiritual beliefs or meta-physical concepts.
PETER: I shan’t comment on your re-interpretation of my statement, as it is not what I said.
RESPONDENT: No reinterpretation needed – ‘it is impossible devote one’s life to becoming happy and harmless in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are ... if you cling to any beliefs that the physical world is other-than-it-is – infinite and eternal’. There is nothing ambiguous about your statement whatsoever.
PETER: I realize that an ‘unequivocal statement’ about the process of actualism by a practicing actualist is an anathema to someone who passionately holds to an agnostic stance as in –
By definition an agnostic is someone who will always reject any ‘unequivocal statement’. It would be a matter of principle to always do so, regardless of the facticity of the statement. An agnostic, holding the conviction that nothing can be known for certain, maintains his or her own feeling of superiority by invariably dismissing everything that everyone says as being ‘their belief’.
PETER: The other relevant point is that what I originally said was –
and I went on to provide evidence that this is so in the part of my response that you deleted.
I have never denied that I have an unequivocal stance on the process of actualism – I have always made it clear that I do. I not only know that the actualism method works, I know why it works and how it works. I also know that the method is universally applicable to anyone who has the genuine intent to become free of the human condition in toto.
PETER: I am at a loss as to what it is you are granting.
I was making the point that I know what I am saying about actualism is a fact because I know that the actualism method works, I know why it works and how it works, in other words I am saying that I have the expertise necessary to make an unequivocal statement about the process of actualism. If you are granting that, then it makes it apparent that your objections to my statement are more a matter of principle rather than an objection to the content per se.
As I said above, when I first started to become intrigued with actualism –
It is pertinent to note that agnosticism has its roots in Gnosticism and that cosmogony and much of cosmology is rooted in Creationism.
RESPONDENT: You will, of course, correct my use of the word ‘believe’ in that statement as you have direct experience of the infinite / eternal nature of the universe, and your common sense tells you so.
PETER: Indeed, and the reason I have had many direct experiences of the infinitude of the physical universe is that I stopped believing the cosmological theories and spiritual fantasies that propose that the physical universe is other than infinite and eternal. And it was not ‘my’ common sense that told me so – it was common sense itself that led me to experientially discover that it is so.
RESPONDENT: How can you possibly ‘experience’ that the universe is infinite and eternal?
PETER: In a pure consciousness experience the universe is experienced as-it-is, infinite and eternal, boundless and happening in this very moment. In a pure consciousness experience, temporarily there is no ‘I’ present, which means the consciousness of this body is no longer ‘self’-centred, which means that there is no ‘me’ present to be the centre of ‘my’ world. This means that I, this flesh and blood body, is bereft of an affective point of reference … then, the experience is that this body is no-where in particular in boundless space and no-when in particular in perpetual time.
It is an experience of unparalleled freedom for it is a direct experience of the infinitude of the peerless actual world we flesh and blood humans live in.
RESPONDENT: Can you sensately experience its lack of bounds?
PETER: From my experience, I would say that what is experienced in a PCE is a lack of a centre, as in ‘self’-centred feelings or thoughts, which results in the sensate experience that the actual world has no bounds i.e. is in fact boundless. In a PCE the actual world is also experienced as eternal in that it can only ever be experienced now (and it is always now). And further, the actual world of the physical universe is experienced as perfect in that it is without peer, and it is experienced as pure in that it is without comparison.
T’is little wonder that a PCE is sometimes referred to as a mind-blowing experience.
RESPONDENT: Did you travel back in time far enough to know that there was no beginning? (Don’t bother responding to these questions... I’ve heard it before.) You suggest that maintaining an open mind about the nature of the cosmos smacks of spiritualism or metaphysics, but to me your stance sounds much more that way.
PETER: If I may point out it is you who are asking rhetorical questions and then telling me not to bother to answer as you have heard it all before, in other words you demonstrating that you are unwilling to change your mind no matter what my response. This means that rather being open minded as you claim, you are being closed minded to even considering the possibility that the physical universe is both infinite and eternal.
You have also made your close-minded stance clear in the past –
To maintain that nothing is ever true is to remain closed minded to the possibility that something may be true or that something you dismiss as being a belief may indeed be a fact.
To maintain that you ‘don’t believe either that the universe is finite or infinite’ is to be closed-minded to even entertaining the possibility that it might be in fact infinite.
RESPONDENT: All the cults made the same kinds of final decisions, and any questioning thereof is off-limits. This sounds just the same.
PETER: Being a member of a cult necessitates that one always believes what the cult authority says to be the truth, which in turn means that one always rejects what non-cult members believe to be the truth as being mere beliefs. The process of actualism on the other hand involves an actualist setting aside all of his or her own beliefs in order to be able to clearly see and understand the facts of the matter, no matter what the consequences.
Actualism is not about believing others, actualism is about finding out by oneself, for oneself.
RESPONDENT: While one can have direct experience of the universe, I think that applying characteristics to it (e.g. eternal, created) is a subjective action of the neo-cortex, rooted in ‘common sense’.
PETER: If you have a direct experience of the physical universe, you will inevitably have a direct experience of the infinitude of the physical universe because there is no ‘I’ or ‘me’ extant in a PCE to hold or maintain any belief whatsoever that it should be otherwise.
RESPONDENT: If you say so...
PETER: I am not just theorizing or indulging in philosophical tit-for-tat discussion, I know that it is so because I have had many PCEs since becoming a practicing actualist. (...)
RESPONDENT: So, making absolute statements about the nature of the universe is presumptuous and smacks of a belief system.
PETER: And yet, earlier in this same post, you have maintain that Mr. Bohm’s absolute statement about the nature of the universe – ‘that 95% of the phenomena are invisible and not perceived from our senses’ – is valid. I take it from this that you do not regard his statement as being ‘presumptuous’ and nor do you regard it as smacking of a belief system.
RESPONDENT: It is most decidedly not a belief system... quite the opposite – a rejection of all belief systems. To be sure of the nature of the universe is a belief system.
PETER: Am I missing your point here? I take it that when Mr. Bohm says ‘95% of the phenomena are invisible and not perceived from our senses’, he makes this statement because he is sure of the nature of the universe. I also know from your previous comments that you are also sure that his claim is valid –
Just to make things clear, in a conversation about the nature of the universe you maintain that our perception of the nature of the universe ‘may be constrained by our sensory apparatus to only those detectable inputs’. If you are sure about this, and you seem to be arguing strongly that this is so, then by your own principle – ‘to be sure of the nature of the universe is a belief system’ – you are supporting a belief-system.
However, in order to be faithful to your agnostic stance you would have to be sure that you are not sure, i.e. you would have to maintain that everything was a belief, including Mr. Bohm’s alleged statement.
It must be a tough business having to reject everything on principle.
PETER: Whilst you have said in the past –
– you are, yet again, coming out of the ‘not-knowing’ closet and championing yet another meta-physical theory about the nature of the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: My statement does not suggest any speculation about the nature of the universe, metaphysical or otherwise. It suggests quite the opposite. And, yes, I am in the not-knowing camp, and no, I am not championing any theory, metaphysical or otherwise. You are very quick to trot out the metaphysical/spiritual warning flag when it suits you. Whitewash.
PETER: I am simply taking your statements at face value. When you say such things as ‘I still maintain we may be constrained by our sensory apparatus to only those detectable inputs’ you are not saying ‘I maintain it cannot be known’ or ‘I do not know’, you are saying you maintain there may well be something that is unknowable to our physical senses. From where I come from, that which is unknowable to our physical senses, i.e. that which can by its very nature never be known to the physical senses and therefore can never be physically detected, is described as being meta-physical, as in other-than-physical.
I don’t know how much whiter I can make the wash.
PETER: If I can refer you back to your claim that you hold no beliefs about the nature of the physical universe, I’ll take the opportunity of reposting my response –
I don’t know whether it has occurred to you in the course of our conversations but those who value ‘not-knowing’ do in fact hold to many opinions based on what they have heard other people say and do in fact stubbornly hold to many beliefs – principal amongst them the belief that ‘Unknowable’ forces and energies permeate the physical universe.
RESPONDENT: This is an accurate statement... those who ‘value’ not-knowing are working in a belief system, and do ascribe powers to those unknowable forces.
PETER: I am at somewhat at a loss as to your reply as you have previously said in this post ‘yes, I am in the not-knowing camp’. Correct me if I am wrong, but I take it that you are saying that while you are ‘in the not-knowing camp’ you do not ‘value’ not-knowing. By value I mean hold dear, feel strongly about, or identify with as in regard it as part of your identity.
If it is the case that you do not value not-knowing then it is indeed good news because it means you will have no difficulty in abandoning the not-knowing camp and coming over and joining those of us who are dedicated to finding out the facts of the matter.
As for ascribing ‘powers to those unknowable forces’ – if one stops believing in unknowable forces and energies then the belief in unknowable powers, by whatever name, collapses as well. It’s a bold step to forsake the accrued wisdom of a blighted humanity but the sense of freedom that results is both palpable and life changing. I can highly recommend not only abandoning one’s cherished beliefs (or disbeliefs) but abandoning the very act of believing (or disbelieving).
RESPONDENT: This is indeed the stuff of fairyland. It is most assuredly not the stuff of the inquisitive scientific mind.
PETER: Yep. Once I had decided to stop stalling, it was curiosity that led me to want to find out if what Richard had discovered was repeatable by anyone else – anyone else being me.
RESPONDENT: To summarize: It completely baffles me how proponents of AF can be so adamant about what they call facts.
PETER: Well, it is you who have set up camp with the not-knowers of the world. If you insist on remaining in that camp, how do you ever expect to join the ranks of those who are curious enough to find out what an actual freedom from the human condition is and whether the actualism method works in practice?
RESPONDENT: In my limited PCE experiences, the universe has indeed been a wondrous and complete-as-it-is place, but never has it been obvious that it had certain characteristics such is infinite size, timelessness, etc, whereas in yours it obviously does.
PETER: I can only suggest that next time you have such an experience that you take a good look around in whatever place you happen to be at the time for some evidence that the universe is finite in space and time. I would be interested as to what you find.
RESPONDENT: From over here, I also have a difficult time comprehending how you can be so sure about its fundamental nature. Down through history, there have been many instances of falsehoods that have been rationalized by logical/scientific processes, later to be overturned. Those people were equally convinced, and given what they knew at the time, often rightfully so.
PETER: Yep. Those who have been gullible in the past invariably fall back on being cynical. I have seen it happen to so many of my former spiritual colleagues. I refused to believe that ‘life’s a bitch and then you die’ and it’s prudent to make sure you have ‘a good bank account in heaven’, as Vineeto puts it, just in case there is an afterlife.
The lure of experiencing peace on earth in this lifetime rekindled my somewhat dormant naiveté.
RESPONDENT: I still maintain that it doesn’t matter what constitutes the universe. In my educated guess, that is not pertinent to the real essence of AF, and in fact dilutes it.
PETER: I am reminded of someone who was interested in actualism but insisted that he maintain his belief that ‘love is the answer’. He insisted that a real freedom should contain love. He eventually abandoned his pursuit of an actual freedom from the human condition and went back into the real world in pursuit of fulfilment of his dream.
I take it from your comments that the ‘real essence’ of an actual freedom from the human condition is one that accommodates your particular beliefs and convictions. Does this not strike you as a somewhat ‘self’-centred view of what is on offer in actualism – a universally-applicable freedom from the human condition in toto, an actual freedom that is freely available for everyone who so desires it?
RESPONDENT: Back to the meat of the matter ...
I was about to respond to your post line by line, but I had written in my last post:
I had better stick to my guns as this could start to look like a pissing contest to those who are not aware that we actually have a reason for this other than puffery.
PETER: Some issues require stubborn persistence in order to really get to the bottom of things. Even after I launched myself into actualism I can remember desperately hanging on to particular beliefs that ‘I’ cherished, values that ‘I’ held in esteem, rights that ‘I’ held to be true, things ‘I’ believed were worth fighting for and things I felt to be unfair. Given that a PCE confirms everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong, an actualist has a lot to unearth in the human condition. (...)
RESPONDENT: I have been labelled, and admitted to being, an agnostic. (BTW, I am delighted to have provided some of the material for several new selected correspondence pages on the subject of agnosticism).
PETER: As you would have noted, any correspondence from this list that is posted in the selected correspondence is done so anonymously, as it is the topic of conversation that will be of interest to others, not ‘who’ the correspondent is. The same thing happens when I write – I know full well that I am writing to a fellow human being but it is the topic of the conversation that I focus upon, not ‘who’ is writing it. By what you say, if we did happen to meet one day we would have a chuckle over what others may see as a nit-picking attack-defence argument but what I regard as a sincere attempt to get to core of this topic.
RESPONDENT: Webster’s defines agnosticism:
and I guess the shoe fits (excepting the bit about deities).
PETER: Being a little playful, I could re-word the second part to read –
RESPONDENT: You maintain surety of the infinite nature of the universe, a surety I haven’t shared. It’s not that I hold agnosticism as a banner or philosophy, I just haven’t proved to myself this particular fact. And proving such matters to myself is one of the high tenets of AF, with which I heartily agree. While I think the universe is likely infinite, I just don’t have the direct experience, and it’s a puzzle how one ever could, even in a PCE. That said, I do see how this concept is fundamental to AF and I’d best keep myself open to it.
PETER: Speaking personally, I never remained open to anything Richard said, I assumed that what he was saying was fact –because it was clear to me that he was free of the human condition. Given his expertise, I figured he might know a thing or two about becoming free of the human condition which meant I had a lot to learn from him if I wanted to become free from the human condition. If you want to find out something then it makes sense to listen to someone who has done it before.
This meant that I had to put ‘my’ views and previous failed efforts to one side for a while whilst I concentrated on, and contemplated upon, what he was saying. In other words, with the resolve of questioning my own beliefs, I acknowledged that my views on the matter under consideration may well only be beliefs, no matter how many other people held to the same view.
Just to make the point again – I didn’t remain open to the fact that Richard might be right – I assumed he was right and remained open to the fact that ‘I’ might be wrong. I am well aware that taking such an approach can be seen as being foolish or being gullible – it definitely contravenes the principles of agnosticism – but I fail to see how anyone can take the necessary action to determine whether something is a fact or not if he or she continues to remains ‘open’ to it not being so. Because of what he said he had discovered – a way to become actually free of the human condition – I never took the approach of trying to prove him wrong, I took the approach of trying to find out if he was right, a vastly different approach.
In this vein, something you wrote to Vineeto recently caught my eye –
I think you have got to the hub of the matter we have been discussing – for an agnostic, actualism can only be seen as foolishness and the actual world can never be proved as existing in fact.
In other words, anyone who holds to the doctrine of agnosticism has to, as a matter of principle, remain open to ‘an unseen world’ … because its existence cannot be disproved.
Agnosticism is directly contrary to actualism – actualism is firmly rooted in the actual world, it has nothing whatsoever to do with any ‘unseen world’.
When I saw that becoming an actualist meant going down a path that everyone else labelled foolish – ‘do not enter’ – I set off in that direction. I did so because is considered sane to live in the real world and it is considered wise to fantasize about ‘personal Deities and unseen worlds’ ... and I was totally dissatisfied with both real-world sanity and spiritual world wisdom.
Peter’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.